One of the highest compliments for any software solution or product is often conveyed with three simple words: “It just works.”

Unfortunately, the older the technology, the more infrequently those three precious words are said.

This is likely due to the fact that many legacy software solutions used in business today were never designed to work together. These systems are often not a single solution, but an amalgam of software kludged together over time. These “Frankenstacks,” never designed as an integrated solution, instead evolved as teams sought to address the shortcomings of initial software purchases and added on new software over time.

In product development, a Frankenstack monster that many designers and engineers have to face daily is file-based CAD and add-on PDM software. The delays, friction, and administrative hassles that these systems create with front-line engineers are indeed the stuff of horror movies. Instead of “It just works,” the phrases engineering leaders are more likely to hear from their teams are more akin to the expletives and curses heard from pitchfork-carrying villagers facing down Frankenstein’s monster in old black-and-white movies.

The frustration and anger are understandable. Highly trained engineering professionals prefer to be productive and solve challenging design problems. Instead, with outdated file-based CAD and add-on PDM, they are more often faced with tedious administrative tasks and version control issues.

The Old Way: Add-On PDM

Developed decades ago, file-based CAD was never designed with integrated PDM. Users instead must resort to workarounds like emailing copies of design files and wrestling with the delays and confusion of version control errors.

Add-on PDM software often purchased to solve these problems only adds new challenges. PDM requires designers and engineers to assume more administrative tasks to get at the same data. Now, instead of working on designs, they waste time “checking in” and “checking out” files. In addition, because it is designed to simply “gate” access like a digital librarian, designers and engineers seeking access to the latest file are “blocked” from needed files until the current user is finished. As a result, users must wait idly, watching as pressing deadlines loom closer with ever-higher anxiety and frustration.

Lest these characterizations seem exaggerated, the data is actually frighteningly clear. The negative impact of these outdated software systems is seen in the results of a recent survey, The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2021. The survey documented that over 80% of designers and engineers say they struggle to simply locate and access their design file data.

How important is it to reduce time related to each of the following activities?

Source: The State of Product Development and Hardware Design 2021

In addition, the report also found that over 50% of file-based PDM users believe the systems slow down the overall design process.

A New Way: Integrated CAD & PDM with Onshape

In contrast to legacy software, the Onshape product development platform integrates CAD, PDM and analytics into a single comprehensive, cloud-native Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution.

From the first line of code, Onshape was architected with the key use-cases of designers and engineers in mind. Users can quickly and easily access the design documents they need, and collaborate in real time – working together on the same document at the same time, without fear of system crashes or data loss.

As a cloud-native solution, Onshape provides users with a “single source of truth” that ensures designers and engineers are always working on the latest design document. Because there are no copies of design-files being shared, users struggle with version control issues and untangling miscommunication with co-workers, saving time and effort.

And because it was architected with the data management needs of users in mind, Onshape lets designers and engineers stay productive, focusing on innovative product development instead of managing unwieldy data files.

Anywhere, Anytime, Any Device

In addition to eliminating the wasted time and hassles of file-based CAD, Onshape keeps data where users need it. In contrast to the office-centric nature of file-based CAD, Onshape doesn’t tether workers to a workstation and office-based servers. Instead, designers and engineers can access their data without any dedicated hardware and from any web-connected device including PCs, MACs, tablets, Chromebooks, or smartphones.

At a time when an increasing number of employees seek the freedom and flexibility to work remotely, Onshape helps companies empower workers and also ensures that firms are able to call upon the best available talent – letting heads of engineering and team leaders build-out teams with members from across the country or across the globe. And because it is purpose-built as a cloud-native platform, Onshape lets team members access design documents seamlessly and collaborate in real time. This level of instant connectivity reduces miscommunication and wasted time, improving efficiency and accelerating time to market.

Key features within the Onshape platform optimize the sharing and collaboration process. Built-in “branching and merging” allow designers and engineers to branch off a core idea – iterating and improving concepts until they have the best approach.

In addition, the branching and merging functionality allows users to take the best of all designs to ratify a final concept without the fear of overwriting or losing earlier concepts.

An unalterable audit trail that captures every change made to a design document, and the flexibility of a limitless “undo and redo” feature allows users to work with confidence knowing that their design data is never going to be lost. The cloud-native nature of the Onshape platform provides users with the confidence that they will never lose their data due to a system crash.

For designers and engineers, the cloud-native Onshape platform, with integrated CAD, data management and analytics is an integrated SaaS solution that “just works.”

Whether providing access to users from any remote location or enabling individuals to collaborate more efficiently with real-time simultaneous collaboration, Onshape keeps users productive by providing them with needed access to critical design data.

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